2 Samuel 14:13
And the woman said, Why then have you thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king does speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king does not fetch home again his banished.
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(13) Against the people of God.—This phrase, according to constant usage, can only mean Israel. The woman finds that the time has come when she must show the king that he stands condemned for his conduct towards Absalom by his own decision. She does this cautiously, and her language is therefore somewhat obscure; she rather hints at than plainly expresses what she wants to say. Her first point is that the king is in some way wronging the people, and then that he does this in opposition to the spirit of the decision he has just given, by leaving Absalom (whom she does not name) in banishment.

The king doth speak . . .—A more literal translation would be, from the king’s speaking this word he is as one guilty.

14:1-20 We may notice here, how this widow pleads God's mercy, and his clemency toward poor guilty sinners. The state of sinners is a state of banishment from God. God pardons none to the dishonour of his law and justice, nor any who are impenitent; nor to the encouragement of crimes, or the hurt of others.Having at last obtained what she wanted, the king's oath that her son should not die, she proceeds to the case of Absalom. The meaning of 2 Samuel 14:13 may be paraphrased thus: "If you have done right as regards my son, how is it that you harbor such a purpose of vengeance against Absalom as to keep him, one of God's people, an outcast in a pagan country, far from the worship of the God of Israel? Upon your own showing you are guilty of a great fault in not allowing Absalom to return."

The king doth speak ... - literally, "And from the king speaking this word (this sentence of absolution to my son) he is as one guilty; i. e. the sentence you have pronounced in favor of my son condemns your own conduct toward Absalom."

13-17. Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God, &c.—Her argument may be made clear in the following paraphrase:—You have granted me the pardon of a son who had slain his brother, and yet you will not grant to your subjects the restoration of Absalom, whose criminality is not greater than my son's, since he killed his brother in similar circumstances of provocation. Absalom has reason to complain that he is treated by his own father more sternly and severely than the meanest subject in the realm; and the whole nation will have cause for saying that the king shows more attention to the petition of a humble woman than to the wishes and desires of a whole kingdom. The death of my son is a private loss to my family, while the preservation of Absalom is the common interest of all Israel, who now look to him as your successor on the throne. If thou wouldst not permit the avengers of blood to molest me, or to destroy my son, who are but two persons; how unreasonable is it that thou shouldst proceed in thy endeavours to avenge Amnon’s blood upon Absalom, whose death would be highly injurious and grievous to the whole commonwealth of Israel, all whose eyes are upon him as the heir of the crown, and a wise, and valiant, and amiable person, unhappy only in this one act of killing Amnon, which was done upon a high and heinous provocation, and whereof thou thyself didst give the occasion, by permitting Amnon to go unpunished!

The king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty; by thy word, and promise, and oath given to me for thy son, thou condemnest thyself for not allowing the same equity towards thy own son.

His banished, to wit, Absalom, from that heathenish country, where he is in evident danger of being infected with their idolatry and other vices; which is likely to be a great and public mischief to all thy people, if he come to reign in thy stead, which he is very likely to do. It is true, there was a considerable disparity between her son’s and Absalom’s case, the one being a rash and sudden action, the other a deliberate and premeditated murder; but that may seem to be balanced in some measure, partly by Amnon’s great and lasting provocation, and principally by the vast difference between a private injury, which was her case, and in a public calamity and grievance, which she affirmed, and the king easily believed, was Absalom’s case: and what David said in the case of Joab’s murder of Abner, that he could not revenge it, because the sons of Zeruiah were too hard for him, 2 Samuel 3:39; the like peradventure might have been said in this case, where the people’s hearts may seem to have been universally and vehemently set upon Absalom, and the rather, because his long banishment moved their pity, and his absence made him more desirable, as it frequently happens among people; and therefore it might really be out of the king’s power to punish him; and so he might seem to be obliged to spare him for the common safety of his whole kingdom. Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God?.... That they would be so wicked as to slay my son, or that they are the people of God that would slay Absalom; people so cruel could not be reckoned such, as the king's sons; so Abarbinel; who gives it as the sense of Ephodaeus, that by the people of God are meant Absalom, and his men; or Absalom only, one man being sometimes called people, Exodus 21:8; and she expostulates with the king how he could entertain such a thought, as to seek to take away his life, when he had so fully expressed himself in her case on behalf of her son, who had slain his brother; or rather the meaning is, why he should think of doing such a thing as this, so contrary to the will of the people of Israel, the people of God, who would be greatly offended and grieved at it; so contrary to their wishes, which were to see him fetched back from an Heathenish court and country, where he was in danger of being corrupted, and to be restored to his father's favour and to his country, that he might be upon the spot at his death, to succeed in the throne and kingdom; for the provocation that Absalom had to kill Amnon had greatly lessened the evil in the esteem of the people:

for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty: he contradicts and condemns himself, in swearing that her son who had killed his brother should not die, nor an hair of his head be hurt, but should be in the utmost safety; and yet he sought to put his own son to death for a like crime, as the next clause explains it:

in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished; meaning Absalom, who was in a foreign country, an exile, 2 Samuel 13:34, and in danger of falling into idolatry; not daring to come home, lest his father should order him to be put to death; and which he might justly fear he would, should he return without leave, since he sought not by any means to fetch him back.

And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou {g} thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.

(g) Why do you give contrary sentence to your son Absalom?

13. Wherefore then, &c.] David’s resolution to keep Absalom in exile was an injury to the people of God, for he was the heir to the throne.

for the king, &c.] Better, and by the king’s speaking this word he is as one guilty. The promise of protection to her son was a condemnation of his own conduct towards Absalom. He had acknowledged the possibility of an exception to the general rule of punishment for murder, but he had not extended this exception to his own son, in spite of the strongest reasons for so doing.Verse 13. - Against the people of God. Very skilfully, and so as for the meaning only gradually to unfold itself to the king, she represents the people of Israel as the widowed mother, who has lost one son; and David as the stern clan folk who will deprive her of a second though guilty child. But now he is bound by the solemn oath he has taken to her to remit the penalty; for literally the words are, and by the king's speaking this word he is as one guilty, unless he fetch home again his banished one. She claims to have spoken in the name of all Israel, and very probably she really did express their feelings, as Absalom was very popular, and the people saw in Tamar's wrong a sufficient reason for, and vindication of, his crime. When the king asked her, "What aileth thee?" the woman described the pretended calamity which had befallen her, saying that she was a widow, and her two sons had quarrelled in the field; and as no one interposed, one of them had killed the other. The whole family had then risen up and demanded that the survivor should be given up, that they might carry out the avenging of blood upon him. Thus they sought to destroy the heir also, and extinguish the only spark that remained to her, so as to leave her husband neither name nor posterity upon the earth. The suffix attached to ויּכּו, with the object following ("he smote him, the other," 2 Samuel 14:6), may be explained from the diffuseness of the style of ordinary conversation (see at 1 Samuel 21:14). There is no reason whatever for changing the reading into יכּוּ, as the suffix ow, though unusual with verbs הל, is not without parallel; not to mention the fact that the plural יכּוּ is quite unsuitable. There is also quite as little reason for changing ונשׁמידה into וישׁמידוּ, in accordance with the Syriac and Arabic, as Michaelis and Thenius propose, on the ground that "the woman would have described her relatives as diabolically malicious men, if she had put into their mouths such words as these, 'We will destroy the heir also.' " It was the woman's intention to describe the conduct of the relations and their pursuit of blood-revenge in the harshest terms possible, in order that she might obtain help from the king. She begins to speak in her own name at the word וכבּוּ ("and so they shall quench and"), where she resorts to a figure, for the purpose of appealing to the heart of the king to defend her from the threatened destruction of her family, saying, "And so they shall quench the burning coal which is left." גּחלת is used figuratively, like τὸ ζώπυρον, the burning coal with which one kindles a fresh fire, to denote the last remnant. שׁוּם לבלתּי: "so as not to set," i.e., to preserve or leave name and remnant (i.e., posterity) to my husband.

This account differed, no doubt, from the case of Absalom, inasmuch as in his case no murder had taken place in the heat of a quarrel, and no avenger of blood demanded his death; so that the only resemblance was in the fact that there existed an intention to punish a murderer. But it was necessary to disguise the affair in this manner, in order that David might not detect her purpose, but might pronounce a decision out of pity for the poor widow which could be applied to his own conduct towards Absalom.

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